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How to Descale a Keurig With Vinegar or Descaling Agent

I’ve been using a Keurig for years, and I love it! But recently, my machine has been slowing down. The worst part is that the taste of the coffee has changed too – it tastes more bitter now. It turns out that this is because I need to descale my coffee maker (by the way if you have the best Keurig coffee maker this still needs to be done regularly). Descaling a Keurig isn’t hard at all. Here are the steps for how to descale a Keurig with vinegar or without.

How to Descale a Keurig Coffee Machine with a Descaling Agent

If you find that your descale light stays on, these are your first steps. 

Turn on your Keurig

To descale a Keurig coffee maker, you will need to have the power turned on. Plug it in and turn on the coffee maker.

How to Descale a Keurig

Turn off the automatic turn off feature

The descaling solution needs time to work its magic and break down the scale inside the machine. Therefore, it’s best to set your Keurig not to shut off. Otherwise, you will have a less effective descaling process and have to repeat it.


Empty the water reservoir

While your Keurig is warming up, make sure you have taken out the water from your Keurig. Emptying the tank will ensure that there is no standing water in the machine as you clean it.


Remove the water filter inside your water tank

When you remove the water from the water tank, you also need to take out the Keurig water filter. Removing the filter will ensure that your machine is cleaned thoroughly, and the subsequent use of your machine should be much better after you have descaled it using these instructions.


Remove any coffee pod that is in your machine

Before you do anything else, make sure you remove the last pod used in the coffee machine. Removing the previous coffee pod will ensure that when you start this process, the water in the machine is starting fresh, and there aren’t any coffee remnants to deal with.


Remove the K-Cup holder and drip tray

Keurig Brand Replacement Drip Tray for Elite and Classic Brewing Systems K40, K45, K50, K55, B40, B45, B50, B55 (Black)

Your coffee maker should now have an empty reservoir; take off all of your Keurig’s removable parts so you can access the parts that need cleaning.

While you are descaling, it is an excellent time to clean your other Keurig coffee machine parts. For example, you can wipe the machine’s exterior down with a non-abrasive cloth and get it looking new again and rinse and clean out the drip tray.


Add the descaling solution to the water reservoir

Keurig 3-Month Brewer Maintenance Kit Includes Descaling Solution, Water Filter Cartridges & Rinse Pods, Compatible Classic/1.0 & 2.0 K-Cup Coffee Makers, 7 Count

Use a store-bought descaling solution specially designed for your Keurig coffee maker and read the instructions on how much water to add per ounce of cleaner. You can also make your own DIY descaler by using vinegar and water, which we cover next.

Add the descaling solution to the water reservoir and combine it with the appropriate amount of water. Some descaling solutions are a 1:1 ratio, while others descaling agents are more watered down. Fill the cleaning solution up to the max fill line, and you are set.


Run a brewing cycle to get the Keurig descaling solution into the machine

Keurig 3-Month Brewer Maintenance Kit Includes Descaling Solution, Water Filter Cartridges & Rinse Pods, Compatible Classic/1.0 & 2.0 K-Cup Coffee Makers, 7 Count

Next is getting the water from the water reservoir into the warming tank. To do this, place a container underneath where the water will come out normally and run a brewing cycle or two depending on which type of Keurig you have.

This will run the descaling solution through the machine. When you do this, you will start to see the scale build-up show up in the container that you placed underneath the waterspout.


Run the descaling solution through the Keurig brewer

Keep pressing the brew button to run the brewing cycles until the “Add More Water” light comes on on your Keurig brewer. Running the tank to near-empty will show that you have got all of the descaling mixture into the machine. Next, toss the scaling solution down the sink.


Let the solution sit

Leave the descaling mix in the tank for 30 minutes to an hour or more so that it can soak in the internal tank and work its magic. This is why we need the shut-off feature turned off and want the solution to sit in the tank for a while.

If the machine turns off by accident, turn it back on. The element inside will heat it back up to the preprogrammed temperature.


Rinse out the water reservoir and refill

Once all the Keurig descaling solution is run through and refill the reservoir with fresh, clean water and run a whole tank of water through the machine using the brew function. We do this to make sure we get rid of any descaling solution that may still be in the machine.


Run at least 12 full water reservoirs through to flush out the solution.

The descaling mixture shouldn’t be ingested. So we want to ensure that there is none left behind. To be safe, we run 12 full water tanks through our Keurig to ensure we have thoroughly flushed out the solution. This rinsing process may feel excessive, but it’s necessary to ensure your brewer is free of any acetic acid from the Keurig descaling solution.


Enjoy your next great cup of coffee!

There you have it. It’s the easy way to descale your Keurig, and you can get back to brewing coffee like you were before.

Pop your best Keurig K Cup into the brewer, fill up the brewer’s water reservoir with fresh water, and return to brewing your favorite coffee.

How To Descale a Keurig with Vinegar and Water

How to Descale a Keurig with vinegar

If you just looked at the above and didn’t like the idea of using a descaling solution, or other chemicals like citric acid, there is a way to descale a Keurig without the descaling solution. Here are the steps for descaling a Keurig with white distilled vinegar and water.

Empty the Keurig coffee maker water tank

Like the previous one, remove the warm water in the holder and dump it down the drain. Also, remove the water filter and any used coffee pod from the K-cup holder.

Fill the reservoir with White Distilled Vinegar and Water

Next, get some white vinegar and add it to the reservoir with water in a 1:1 ratio so that you have a strong enough solution to go through your Keurig.

Make sure to follow the ratio; using pure distilled white vinegar could cause damage to the internal parts of the machine. Next, fill the brewer’s reservoir tank up to the fill line.

Place a large mug on the tray of the coffee maker

Get a large mug and place it on the drip tray of your Keurig model. Press the brew button and run the solution through the Keurig coffee machine. Repeat this several times. Empty the coffee mug after each brew and

Run the brew cycle until add more water appears

Once you have run the vinegar through, you want to wait until the machine tells you to add more water. We do this is to make sure that all of the vinegar solution is run through before continuing onto the next step.

As you do this, you will start to see some white settlement in the coffee mug. Dispose of this down the drain, and it simply means that the vinegar is breaking down the deposit inside the machine and flushing them out.

Let sit for four hours

Once the “Add More Water” notice appears on the machine or the light starts flashing inside the tank, you will need to let it sit for four hours or more. This is so the mixture can do its thing and break down the scale inside the Keurig brewer.

The more extended time is due to the vinegar that takes longer to break down the scale inside of the machine.

Empty and fill up the reservoir

Once the time is past, empty out the reservoir of any remaining vinegar-water mixture and fill it up with clean water. Run the machine through a complete brew cycle until the water reservoir is empty again, and repeat this several times.

Run some clean water tanks

To ensure there is no vinegar left inside your Keurig machine, run at least five full tanks of freshwater through your Keurig coffee machine. Performing this will ensure you flush out any remaining vinegar-water solution that is left.

Enjoy your next great cup of coffee

Now that you have descaled your Keurig brewer, you can get back to a great tasting cup of coffee. Add the filter and fill the water reservoir up with fresh filtered water, and you are good to go.

Descaling A Keurig FAQ

How often should I clean my Keurig model?

Keurig recommends that you descale your machines at least once every three months. Depending on how often you use it and how hard your water is, you can leave it for as long as six months.

Cleaning the remaining parts should be done every week or at least every month with a non-abrasive cloth.

Why do I need to descale my Keurig?

To descale a Keurig, you will need to run a descaling solution or vinegar through it to remove any residue build-up. When this doesn’t happen, the buildup will start to leak into your coffee cup, resulting in bad taste and flavor.

Can I use vinegar to descale Keurig?

As you can see, Keurigs are susceptible to the effects of hard water deposits if you don’t descale them regularly. The good news is that this job is straightforward, and you can do it with white distilled vinegar and water.

Is descaling solution better than vinegar?

Keurig recommends using their descaling solution, so it’s best to use that. Descaling is best for the inner workings of the machine and ensuring a great cup of coffee.

Do you need to descale a Keurig?

Yes, you need to descale a Keurig as this will keep it working at peak performance and prevent pesky leaks or clogs. In addition, doing this will keep it in tip-top shape and ensure you give your coffee makers their best life.

Why isn’t water coming out of my Keurig?

If you find that the water isn’t coming out of the Keurig, you may need to clean the Keurig needle. If you clean the Keurig needle and still have issues, there could be an issue with the waterline. Read this to fix a Keurig not pumping water.

What does descale mean on Keurig?

When you see the “descale” indicator on your Keurig come on it means that it is time to descale the machine. This means that there has been scale build-up on the inside parts of your Keurig and it is not functioning properly. Therefore it must be run through a descaling process. 


How to Descale a Keurig Summary

Knowing how to descale a Keurig is key in having the best cup of coffee every time. While this process can take time (a few hours while the vinegar or descaling solution runs through(, the actual labor involved is minimal. Make a note to descale your Keurig every few months and you will be enjoying great tasting coffee for years to come. 


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